Friday, October 26, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Brunch Big Blend

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone!  Today's Feature Beer is the perfect option for a morning beer, the Beer Geek Brunch Big Blend from Mikkeller.  The name is a mashup of the two founders' names, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, and Kristian Klarup Keller, who started as homebrewers in Denmark before launching Mikkeller and becoming one of the pioneers of gypsy brewing.  Gypsy brewing is a concept where the brewing company doesn't own a physical brewery, but instead uses other breweries for production when space is available and also collaborating with various breweries.  

Mikkeller's first huge beer hit was Beer Geek Breakfast which was an imperial stout with coffee that has been brewed many times since, but most of their beers are one-off special releases and variants.  Since starting the Mikkeller brand has established new locations worldwide, primarily bars but some like in New York City have brewing facilities attached.  This particular beer is one that I found locally at Robert Fresh Market on Highland Rd., the Beer Geek Breakfast Brunch Big Blend.  The original Beer Geek Brunch was also an imperial oatmeal stout with even more expensive coffee, but this one is a special version that's blended from six different aging barrels.  It's a combination of beer aged in bourbon, cherry wine, cognac, tequila, brandy, and whiskey.  I know, bourbon IS whiskey, but I don't know exactly what type the second one is, but I'm guessing that it's a scotch as they released a version of Beer Geek Brunch that was labeled as "Islay Edition" and a version of Beer Geek Breakfast labeled as a "Speyside Edition" so maybe they just got the spelling of whisky associated with scotch wrong?  Enough wondering though, how's the beer? 

Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Brunch Big Blend

As you can see, the head is massive on this one, with an excess of carbonation.  Other reviewers had the same issue, so this isn't just a localized storage problem, but a full batch problem.  Hopefully though, it's not infected and the flavors are still intact.  Past that, the beer itself is a rich dark brown as expected from this 8% stout.  The nose is rich, with all the various barrel agings coming through but none as strong as the coffee from the base beer.  The bourbon is probably the strongest barrel on the aroma, but there's also a definite fruitiness from the cognac, brandy, and wine.  On the taste there's a hint of tequila, but it's the least present barrel flavor, and again the coffee and bourbon are coming through the strongest.

All in all, a very interesting beer, but if anything there is too much going on.  It's absolutely worth a try, but be ready for some heavy carbonation and a multi-pronged assault on the taste buds.  Cheers!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition Irish Whiskey

By Eric Ducote

Good morning Tiger fans!  If I was a superstitious fan I'd be going straight back to some JPS 21-Year Rye after LSU laid the smack down on #2 UGA last week, but I'm not superstitious and I don't really believe that my whiskey choices have any impact on a football game.  That said, it's always been a fun tradition that started in my tailgating days to start off a big day with a wakey whiskey.  That tradition has evolved past tailgating into all game days, and even birthdays, holidays, weddings, and other special events.  If it's a cause for celebration, it's a cause for some wakey whiskey!

With that noted, I'm of course going to feature a new whiskey today, as you're here to read about the beverage and it would be boring to write about the same one every time LSU wins, right? There's only so much I could have said about the Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye whiskey that I started off the season with, and you would have had 5 weeks of that one!  So this week, an Irish Whiskey with a twist, the Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition.  This one starts out as a standard batch of Jameson Irish Whiskey, and then is aged further in barrels that were used to age an Irish craft-brewed stout.  

Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition Irish Whiskey

The color is basically the same as regular Jameson, golden with hints of orange.   The nose is smooth, with hints of honeysuckle, mineral water, and a hint of fruit.  There's a minimal 'burn' on this whiskey, as it's triple distilled in the Irish tradition and bottled at 80 proof.  The result is an extremely smooth sipping whiskey, with a hint of chocolate malt notes on the taste combined with the fruit and honey flavors of the base whiskey.  It finishes easy with another little hint of chocolate.

Overall, I really enjoy this whiskey, although I don't know that I really get much 'stout' out of it.  I think it would have been even better with more time in those beer barrels, but I also feel like it's a lot harder to impart the beer flavors into a whiskey than it is to pull whiskey flavors into a beer.  I admire the creativity to mix up the process, and at a reasonable price around $30, it's not a bad buy.  I'm going to have to try the IPA edition next, as I feel like hop flavors might work even better.  Until then, cheers, and GEAUX TIGERS! 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Crown Valley's Imperial Pumpkin Smash Stout

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, it's finally starting to feel like Fall for more than a day at a time, and as everyone knows, Fall means pumpkin EVERYTHING.  Beer has never been an exception to this trend, as pumpkin beers have been popping up ever since craft beer started its renaissance.  Generally I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin beers, but most are lighter styles with bland pumpkin seasonings... not the case with this offering from Crown Valley.

Crown Valley Brewing & Distilling is located in rural southeast Missouri, in an area known primarily for wineries.  They produce a range of flagship beers and ciders, in addition to seasonal and high abv beers.  I very rarely see their flagship beers in our market, but occasionally spot the ciders and every year their Imperial Pumpkin Smash Stout hits shelves.  This beer is a high-abv imperial stout base, with 10.6% alcohol and 48 IBU.  It's loaded with rich dark malts and balanced out with some noble hops as well as Chinook which is known for a piney character.  

Crown Valley's Imperial Pumpkin Smash

The beer (a fresh 2018 version) pours a dark chocolate color, as an imperial stout should, with a lighter than expected head but great retention.  The nose is a combination of bitter roasted coffee notes, sweeter chocolate malt notes, and an undeniable pumpkin flavor blended with the spices always associated with pumpkin desserts.  The taste is a beautiful follow through on the nose, with complex malt flavors that work extremely well with the pumpkin and spice.  My favorite thing about this beer is that it still tastes like an imperial stout with pumpkin on top rather than it tasting like I'm drinking a glass of pumpkin pie.  

This remains one of my favorite pumpkin beers alongside the Saint Arnold Pumpkinator, and I'll almost certainly be buying some more before the season is over.  Cheers! 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-Year Rye

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone and welcome back to Wakey Whiskey here at Bite And Booze.  Last week I broke out one of my "bigger" whiskeys in anticipation of a big matchup with Florida, and this week is an even bigger matchup with Georgia even if the loss last week takes off a smidge of luster.  The truth is, LSU's still almost as in control of their own destiny as possible, just without any more margin for error.  Now, I'm not booking my hotel rooms for the championship just yet, but it's still in play, right?  

This week I'm sticking with the Jefferson's line of whiskey, but instead of the 21-year bourbon like I finished off last week, this is the 21-year rye.  There's something fun about drinking a whiskey that's old enough to drink, and I've always been a big fan of rye whiskeys in general, as I find that they tend to be a little more complex than one with a primarily corn grain bill.  

Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-Year Rye

The pour is a dark brown with hints of red, a similar color (as expected) to the 21-year bourbon.  The nose has strong notes of caramel and licorice, with a bit of cinnamon spice.  It's sweet, with a bit of a burn for the 90.4 proof whiskey but the licorice is a bit surprising to me.  The taste is strong with oak, cinnamon, caramel, with the licorice fading and a hint of vanilla coming out.  There's a bit of a burn on the back end, but as a whole it's a very smooth drink of rye, that I like a little more than last week's bourbon.  

Unfortunately this one, like last week's bourbon, is going to be almost impossible to find out in the wild, but the good news is that I still have some left, so if anyone wants to bring a few bottles over to share, I'll be happy to share some of this with you!

Cheers!  And GEAUX TIGERS! 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: St. Bernardus's Abt 12 Quad

By Eric Ducote

Good morning and welcome back to Feature Beer Friday!  I've been featuring a lot of local beers recently, which I'm not ashamed of at all because there are plenty worth featuring, but today I'm headed across the pond to Belgium.  Belgium has always been one of the world leaders when it comes to beer due to their distinctive Belgian-styled ales.  The small country is littered with small breweries (often associated with monasteries) putting out excellent beers.  Belgian ales were really one of my first introductions to the world past macro lagers, as even before the craft scene blew up in Louisiana these options were readily available. One excellent example of a non-Trappist Belgian brewery is St. Bernardus, known for a wide range of styles and their distinctive Witbier.  Today's offering though, is their Abt 12, one of their three "core" beers and the strongest of the bunch. 

St. Bernardus Abt 12

This beer is a 10% abv Belgian-style Quad, which is sometimes referred to as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale.  Typically Belgian ales start at their enkel or "single" which is the lightest offering and usually drank by the monks themselves. After that is a dubbel which is a little stronger and darker, the tripel which is stronger still although typically lighter in color and more floral, and the quadrupel which is dark like the dubbel and even stronger.  The Abt 12 is one of the most popular and well regarded versions of the quadrupel style.  

The beer pours a brown color reminiscent of a coca cola with a very bubbly off-white head. The aroma is fruity, dominated mostly by sweeter plum flavors but also some grape and a little bit of floral hoppiness.   It's extremely pleasing and inviting, and I can't wait to get in a sip.  The mouthfeel is a little thinner than I remember from my early days of beer appreciation, but the flavors are still full and complex, with some rock candy sweetness, fruity esters from the yeast, and a floral bitter balance from the hops.  This was a fresh bottle of Abt 12, but I'd imagine the sweet and fruity flavors would be enhanced with age while the hoppy notes fade.  This beer has earned a reputation as one of the best in the world, and it does not disappoint.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 should be pretty easy to find around Baton Rouge, either in a corked & caged 750 ml bottle, a 4-pack of 11.2 oz. bottles, or in a gift set along with the dubbel, tripel and a glass like you see pictured above.  I know it's "on trend" to fill the beer fridge with all hazy IPA these days, but here's an outstanding chance of pace.  Cheers! 


Saturday, October 6, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-Year Bourbon

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone, and happy GAMEDAY to you all!  This afternoon the Fighting Tigers of LSU are taking on the hated Florida Gators, so I figured that called for stepping up my whiskey game a bit.  I've had this bottle of Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-year for quite some time, as it officially released on April 1, 2013.  Unfortunately I'm getting down to the very end, so I had to make sure I gave it the full wakey whiskey honors before my bottle is dry.  

Jefferson's Presidential Select (named after Thomas Jefferson) is produced by Jefferson's Bourbon, which is owned by Castle Brands along with a few names you might recognize in the Irish Whiskey world like Knappogue Castle and Clontarf.  The first two editions of Presidential Select were the 17-year and the 18-year, but they were made from a wheated whiskey that was distilled at Stitzel-Weller of Pappy Van Winkle fame.  The Presidential Select 17-Year actually won the whiskeys of the world tournament that Jay and I hosted (along with James Lawson and Jeremy Spikes) back when we were producing the Raise A Glass radio show, and the 18-Year offering has been featured on Bite and Booze before in a Whiskey Wednesday post.  This 21-Year offering was not distilled by Stitzel-Weller though, and it has no wheat in the grain bill, so the flavor profile is definitely expected to be different.  

Jefferson's Presidential Select 21-Year Bourbon

The pour is dark as a 21-Year bourbon should be, the barrels selected for this batch ranged from 21 to 24 years old, and that's a lot of time for that liquor to soak in and out of the wood and absorb that char and the flavors.  The nose is strong with oak notes, again to be expected from a 21-Year bourbon, but there are also notes of leather and a hint of citrus.  Mostly though, the oak and associated char flavors stand out.  The taste is smooth, the oakiness is still bold, and vanilla comes through as well, the citrus is still there in a very small amount creating a well rounded profile.  

The finish is smooth as well, with minimal alcohol burn and a still dominant flavor of oak.  There's a subtle cinnamon spice throughout, perhaps some rye went into the grain bill in place of the wheat?  i don't think this is quite as impressive as the 17 and 18-Year batches, but it's still a magnificent bourbon.  

With that said, Cheers!  And Geaux Tigers! 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Feature Beer Friday: Parish's Pure Tropics IPA

By Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone and welcome to another Feature Beer Friday here at Bite and Booze.  This week I'm going to take a look at one of the recent hoppy releases from Parish Brewing out of Broussard, Louisiana.  Those that read this space regularly, and most of you in the South Louisiana area are certainly already familiar with Parish, so I'll dive right into the beer review!  

Parish Brewing's Pure Tropics IPA

This particular beer is the Pure Tropics IPA.  It's a 7% abv brewed with an IPA base recipe then conditioned on mango, pineapple, and pink guava puree.  Sounds amazing to me!  

The pour is effervescent, with a golden orange color that absolutely fits in with the NEIPA style and the tropical notes to the beer.  The aroma is a beautiful blend of hoppy flavors and tropical fruit, with the mango coming through strongest in my opinion, although I'm not all that familiar with the pink guava fruit.  Pineapple is a flavor that tends to dominate any drink, which is why it was always a key ingredient to the jungle juice back in my college days, but it's well blended here and doesn't take over the beer entirely.  Each sip is fantastic, with the hoppy citrus notes married with the fruit flavors in a harmonious relationship.  

Parish has another great offering with this round of Pure Tropics, and I'm pretty sure there is still plenty to be found out and about in town, so if you see a 4-pack, buy with confidence.